Three Reasons Why You Should Involve More Than Just Your Heirs In Estate Planning
Estate planning is a big deal. You have to decide which of your heirs gets what. That is difficult enough without worrying about what happens after you have passed away.
As you sit down to write a will, you really should sit down with a probate lawyer. Do not just invite your heirs around a table, and discuss ad nauseum about who wants what, and who gets what. Even with four or five people present, these "witnesses" of yours may not be enough to validate or contest your will when the time comes. Here is why you need to involve not just your heirs, but a probate lawyer too.
Only the Probate Lawyer Can Validate and Make the Will Legal
Once upon a time, you could write a will and then just have witnesses sign below your name. Unfortunately, that made forgeries too easy. Laws were created such that lawyers were the ones that gave credence to the validity of the will, and only lawyers and judges could enforce wills.
You can no longer type out a decree that dispenses your worldly goods, sign it in the company of non-lawyers, and have it be legal. Any one of your witnesses could get a copy from you, retype what the will says so that it favors him/her, and then trick you to sign it, or attempt to forge your signature. Play it safe and have lawyer right there when your will is created.
The Probate Lawyer Can Make Sure That Your Creditors Are Paid
It has always been the intention of the previously living to die owing no man a dime. That is an honorable thing. If you can manage that without legal intervention, that is great. Unfortunately being deceased will not stop government agencies (e.g., the IRS, your state's Department of Revenue, etc.) from collecting what they feel you still owe for the months of the year you were still above ground and breathing. A probate lawyer can settle these things for you out of the cash assets you leave behind.
The Probate Lawyer Is an Impartial Witness
The problem with involving your heirs in the business of creating your will (and not a lawyer) is that each of your adult children, current or former spouses, and friends to which you promise something are emotionally invested in what you say. While that is good for you, it is bad for your will after the fact. You need a witness who has total impartiality to you, your will, and your possessions/estate. The lawyer only views you as a client, and is not after anything you own. Ergo, he/she will not rewrite your will to get something, nor will he/she rewrite your will with any intent of taking something away from another heir.
For more information about probate law, reach out to a local firm.